The forgotten sounds of tech

Feeling nostalgic? Wallow in the sounds of yesteryear, with our sonic gallery of retro tech noises

The tech graveyard is a dark, vast and scary place, littered with outdated hunks of plastic and tangled cables belonging to kit whose time on this Earth was cut short by something faster and shinier. Here's our tribute to some of those ghostly sounds faintly echoing in the mausoleum of the tech of yesteryear.

Nokia kick ringtone

Nokia's classic mono ringtone takes us back to an era where thumb cramps from Snake marathons were a daily occurrence and luminous phone covers meant you were cool. MP3 ringtones just don't have the same charm, do they?

The forgotten sounds of tech - Nokia kick ringtone 2

Game Boy power-on beep

As Nintendo's pixellated black logo confidently dropped in from the top of the original Game Boy's monochromatic screen – marking its arrival with an unmistakable ding – you knew were in for a good time.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Game Boy power-on beep 2

Apple iPod click wheel

Apple's click wheel served our fingers well throughout all its iterations – now that we're all using touchscreen devices, we rather miss its soothing clickety-clack as we navigated through thousands of tracks in awe.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Apple iPod click wheel 2

56k dial-up modem sound

beeeeeepdeeeeeeepzghhhhhhhhgarblejhfchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhzzzzzzzzzz. It took us five hours of repeat listening to come up with a way of expressing that infamous 56k dial-up modem sound in words. About as long as it took to connect to a website, back in the day.

The forgotten sounds of tech - 56k dial-up modem sound 2

Dot matrix printer

Painfully slow and printing to the most fragile paper imaginable, we've still got a soft spot for the clunky (not to mention loud) dot matrix. Mostly because printer ink these days is seven times more expensive than Don Pérignon.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Dot matrix printer 2


Click click clickety click click clack clack click clickety click click ding!. Sigh. It's just not the same. As much as we love the latest and greatest tech, no keyboard can offer the satisfying smash of a typewriter key. Just ask Tom Hanks – he's an avid collector. Or the chap who created this iPad typewriter keyboard.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Typewriter 2


This one hits us right in the nostalgia. Flick on the Mega Drive, be greeted by the blue and white Sega logo, and jump straight into Green Hill Zone Act 1 with a certain blue hedgehog. Crying? Not us. Someone's just chopping onions in here, that's all.

The forgotten sounds of tech - SEGA 2

Telegrams (morse code)

Sending a telegram was expensive STOP It was tedious STOP And worst of all you had to share your attempts at wooing special ladies with the operator who had to send your messages for you STOP We'll stick to emails thank you very much STOP

The forgotten sounds of tech - Telegrams (morse code) 2

More after the break...

Rotary telephone dial

Oh the agony of dialling on a rotary telephone. Finger in, rotate, rinse and repeat. For each number. And may the gadget gods have mercy on your soul if you got the last number wrong and had to repeat the process again. Shudder.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Rotary telephone dial 2

Windows 3.1 boot sound

"Ta-da! Congratulations, Windows has managed to boot successfully". At least, that's how we've always interpreted the cheery boot sound from Microsoft's early OS. Probably best not to mention the blue screens though, eh?

The forgotten sounds of tech - Windows 3.1 boot sound 2

Vinyl lock grooves

Vinyl might not be dead (its sales actually increased in the past year) but the old – not to mention slightly freaky – practice of recording a looped message on the lock groove of a vinyl record appears to be a long forgotten art. Monty Python's secretively barmy "Sorry squire I scratched the record" is a fitting example.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Vinyl lock grooves 2

Floppy disc drive

We're not sure why we feel even the slightest amount of nostalgia for these low capacity, clunky, slow and loud squares of tech, but we do. Maybe it's because we had so much fun smashing them to pieces with chair legs at school.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Floppy disc drive 2

VHS tape rewinding

Manually rewinding and fast-forwarding through a movie feels like something a caveman would do, but that's the harsh reality VHS users were faced with. Don't even get us started on mangled cassettes and tapes. Children will never know the connection between a pencil and a cassette, let alone what a tape actually is. Rather wonderfully, though, horror film V/H/S is getting a limited release on – you guessed it – VHS. So you can once again experience the joy of watching a new film on the format.

The forgotten sounds of tech - VHS tape rewinding 2

BBC broadcast transmission end tone

The staring girl and creepy clown from the BBC's test card that appeared after the end of all broadcasts for the day was terrifying. But couple it with the eerie end tone and it was the stuff of nightmares.

The forgotten sounds of tech - BBC broadcast transmission end tone 2

Camera flash charge whine

Sounding like Sam Fisher's night vision goggles but far less hi-tech, the high pitched whine of an old school point and shoot camera flash re-charging in between shots let everyone know you were reloading and that it was ok to have another swig of your chosen beverage before the next shot.

The forgotten sounds of tech - Camera flash charge whine 2

8mm movie projector

There's nothing quite like the relaxing whirring of an 8mm projector beaming a classic flick onto a wall with a comfy couch propping you up and freshly popped popcorn in your lap. Until the reel jams, the movie is ruined and you're swearing and cursing loud enough to make even the dog abandon ship.

The forgotten sounds of tech - 8mm movie projector 2

You might also like

iPhone 5S coming in June, says analyst

5 US tech trends we want brought to the UK

Tech pairings we'd like to see in 2013

You have to login or register to comment.